Best Running Headphones 2020 for iPhone & Apple Watch

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Running and other sports can be a great way to improve your fitness, improve your self-confidence and lose weight. But while starting is (relatively) easy, taking this resolution and turning it into a long-term lifestyle change is absolutely not.

We all find our motivation in different ways, but music can be hugely helpful in raising your spirits and heart rate or distracting you from burning muscles. Which is where a really decent pair of headphones can make all the difference.

In this article, we round up our pick of the best running, sports and fitness-focused headphones, and offer general advice (below the list) about what you should be looking for when buying headphones for physical activities – whether you’re connecting to an iPhone or Apple Watch.

Of course, you can still connect these to other devices such as an iPad or Mac if you’re exercising at home or when you’re not doing something sporty.

Best running headphones

1. Jabra Elite Sport

Jabra Elite Sport

2. Beats Powerbeats (2020)

Powerbeats (2020)

3. Jaybird Run

Jaybird Run

4. Bose SoundSport Free

Bose SoundSport Free

5. Sennheiser CX Sport

Sennheiser CX Sport

6. Libratone Track+

Libratone Track+

7. Denon AH-C160W

Denon AH-C160W

8. AfterShokz Trekz Air

AfterShokz Trekz Air

9. Urbanista Boston

Urbanista Boston

10. Philips SHQ6500CL

Philips SHQ6500CL

How to choose running/sports headphones

buying headphones is often simple but when you plan to go running or even use them in the gym, there’s a lot more to think about.

Fit

Your headphones are going to be jolted and bounced around more than in civilian life, so the fit needs to be spot on. Headphones with multiple sizes of bud are a good idea. In case the headphones do get jogged out of your ears, some kind of neck attachment may be useful, or the ability to survive a drop. Which leads us to…

Build quality

You’re looking for something robust and light. And also reasonably water-resistant, to account for sweat and rain. An IP rating like IPX4 is basic splash protection, while IP67 is fully dust and waterproof.

Tracking

While the headphones might primarily be for audio, some models can also do things like track your heart rate during exercise. That’s pretty handy if you can’t afford a smartwatch for this kind of feature. It’ll likely cost more than a basic pair but could be worth the investment.

Audio quality

This is probably less of a priority than when selecting headphones for home listening pleasure: the sound of traffic may drown out much of the musical nuance in any case. Talking of which, if you’re going to be cycling, or running across roads, consider your safety. Noise cancellation may be a dangerous option if it prevents you hearing approaching dangers so check they offer an ambient mode.

Wired or wireless?

We’ve gone wireless here because, when running, wires are a pain and, well, the iPhone doesn’t have a headphone jack anymore. It also means you can play music from your Apple Watch, which is a plus for fitness activities.

But going for Bluetooth does increase the price tag so you could consider a pair of Lightning headphones, instead.

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